UK to examine petrol and diesel market in depth

(Reuters) - Britain launched an in-depth study of the gasoline market to investigate a widening gap between crude oil and fuel prices, as well as the difference between pump prices in rural and urban areas.

Forecourt prices in Britain have risen to record highs since the start of the war in Ukraine, taking the cost to fill an average family car above 100 pounds ($119).

The government in May asked the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate the market as a matter of urgency on concerns that a cut in fuel duty had not been passed on to motorists.

The CMA said the main reasons motorists were paying more were the rising price of crude oil and a widening margin between crude and wholesale petrol and diesel, called the refining spread.

It said the fuel duty cut appeared to have been implemented, with the largest fuel retailers doing so immediately and others more gradually.

"While there is no escaping the global pressures pushing up fuel prices, the growing gap between the oil price, and the wholesale price of petrol and diesel, is a cause for concern," said Sarah Cardell, CMA general counsel.

"We now need to get to the bottom of whether there are legitimate reasons for this and, if not, what action can be taken to address it."

An in-depth study allows the CMA to use compulsory information-gathering powers to investigate entire markets.

($1 = 0.8370 pounds) (Reporting by Paul Sandle Editing by Sachin Ravikumar and David Goodman)

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